On the use of drones in military operations in Libya: Ethical, legal, and social issues

Vincent Bataoel

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2011; 2:G62-68

The marked increase in the use of drones against hostile targets since the beginning of the Obama Administration has brought up a number of ethical, legal, and social issues. This paper explores those issues. Both eastern and western moral/ethical codes are delineated with respect to the use of drones, with specific references to Just War. Legal issues with respect to drone strikes are concerned with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1973; the former being focal to post September 11th counter-terrorism operations, and the latter focused upon military intervention and operations in Libya in support of those opposed the Gaddafi government. The legal issues are centered on the degree to which drone strikes are authorized by these two resolutions – if at all. Social issues surrounding the use of drones include the effects that drones have on both subjects (operators, institutions, and targets), and objects of US national security, and the way the US organizes military and intelligence agencies to participate in the process of conflict.


Key words: drones, ethics, law, counter-terrorism, technology, Just War, Pakistan, Libya